It’s one of the most common annoyances that we have all come to accept: Having thousands upon thousands of unopened emails weighing down your inbox and cluttering your screen. A few hundred unanswered inquiries are relatively easy to handle, but once those new messages surpass the 1,000-mark, it’s tough to get a handle on all the incoming communications. No matter how overwhelmed you might become with your crowded inbox, you’re not out of luck. Below you’ll find some of the best tips on how to regain control of your email with as little stress as possible.
1. Don’t get caught up in labels
One of the most common pieces of advice people receive when looking to declutter their inbox is to organize the incoming messages using the “label” or a similar filing function. Although this may work for messages in small volumes, anyone who receives a few hundred emails daily will quickly discover that this is a highly inefficient strategy.
According to the Harvard Business Review, tidying up your inbox this way wastes an average of 14 minutes per day and is 9% slower than simply searching for specific messages using keywords. Further, this practice can take up 10% of your total workday – quite a backfire against the desired productivity. If you need to locate specific messages in your inbox, look up the information with common operators (from:firstname.lastname@example.org) and keywords. It’ll save you quite a bit of time.
2. Your email is not your to-do list
We often find ourselves leaving unopened correspondence in our inbox to “remind” ourselves of what still needs to be done and who still needs to be contacted. According to the 500ish, this habit ends up filling up 50-75% of your inbox with less-than-useful information that, ideally, should be stored elsewhere.
Instead of having colleagues send to-do memos via email, use a task management system in conjunction with your email. That way, the two remain separate, and you can cut back on the average office worker’s 36 hourly email check-ins.
3. Unsubscribe from irrelevant contact lists
We have all subscribed to a mailing list or two in the spur of the moment. At the time, it may seem like a great idea, but many of us learn soon after that all we’ve accomplished is filling up the inbox with yet another stream of useless clutter. Before you start deleting messages, go through your subscriptions, and determine which ones you can live without.
If there are too many subscriptions to get control of, you’re not out of options. Special services are available to help remove the clutter for you. Install an app such as Unroll Me, and the software will filter through your inbox and remove excess messages with little to no hassle. Once these communications have stopped, you can get started on deleting anything older than 30 days. (Without unsubscribing first, your inbox will fill right back up in the blink of an eye).
To keep your inbox clean after you’ve completed these steps, make sure to use Microsoft Outlook as your primary email communication system. This program is equipped with the latest tools and features to keep task management and email correspondence separate, maintaining your inbox’s cleanliness and streamlining your email workflow. To learn more about how your Microsoft 365 subscription can improve your productivity, get in touch with us today.